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Marvel’s Spider-Man Review

Mason Sylvia

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Marvel’s Spider-Man is, without a doubt, the absolute best entry into the beloved franchise featuring your friendly neighborhood arachni-hero (I’m coining that term) and there are innumerable moments where the line between video game and action movie is unreservedly blurred. Insomniac Games (Spyro, Ratchet & Clank, Sunset Overdrive) have developed Spider-Man over the course of several years and tell a new story about our hero that isn’t tied to any comic book, previously released game or film, and dives into the lives of both Spider-Man and Peter Parker.

Within the first thirty minutes, it’s remarkably evident that Insomniac Games have successfully crafted the ultimate Spider-Man experience that delivers on every possible point. It feels like a superhero movie and looks like one too; the graphic fidelity presented here is easily the best I’ve ever seen, even on an original PlayStation 4 model — you do not need a PlayStation 4 Pro to enjoy the experience and the graphical differences are hardly night and day — and even more impressive when you consider the living open world with lightning fast, minimal loading screens. It’s even more evident that this is the ultimate experience when you notice the overall vast accessiblity, as the game was developed to cater to a wide audience of gamers without sacrificing anything that a hardcore Spider-Man fan would miss.

This version of our favorite arachni-hero is set in a present-day, modern New York City, run by Mayor Norman Osborn. Peter is in his early twenties and has already been taking on the mantle of Spider-Man for a few years; in his tenure, he’s already defeated and locked up classic villains Rhino, Vulture, and Electro, and collaborates with police chief Yuri Watanabe, pre-Wraith. Peter’s main objective is to find a balance between his personal life and working as a research assistant, and his self-imposed responsiblity as New York’s protector. The narrative follows the defeat and arrest of a crime lord, which inspires a different kind of threat to claim the throne, which is where we, and Spider-Man, come in.

Marvel’s Spider-Man naturally takes place in the sprawling metropolis of New York City, and it’s quite the living world out there; I spent a lot of time exploring the in-game map (which oddly feels like it’s a 1:1 scale of NYC) and honestly, part of me doesn’t want to stop pointing friendly finger-guns at civilians when I join the foot-walkers on concrete. When I’m not receiving compliments and insults from fans and haters respectively, I’m tackling side-missions and activities which are in abundance and just as enjoyable as the explosive, roughly 15-hour campaign. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed by the amount of content they packed into this open-world adventure, from stopping random crimes to helping Harry Osborn conduct city-saving science missions, working in the laboratory for Peter’s day job, tracking down Black Cat, rescuing pigeons, photographing iconic landmarks, and much more. Honestly, I haven’t experienced such a variety of non-irritating and worthwhile filler content since Watch Dogs 2, and that’s just for lack of a better word, as none of it truly feels like filler content at all.

As a matter of fact, I’ve spent about as much time taking Spidey Selfies (I’m coining this term, too) as I have spent completing these activities. With the Day One patch, Insomniac included the game’s Photo Mode which allows players to pause the game at any moment — even during cutscenes — and set up some pretty amazing screenshots with or without filters, stickers, or visual effects. What’s more, is the Selfie Mode which allows players to take selfies during gameplay and even being able to adjust Spider-Man’s facial expressions on the appropriate suits. I promise you, few things are more enjoyable than running up the Empire State Building and taking a peace-sign selfie from the tippity top, showing off the New York skyline while dressed in the wildly appropriate Spider-Punk suit. Trust me, I’ve done the research. I only wish that there were more gestures and the ability to choose which one you want to use; Spider-Man will only do a peace sign or his classic ASL-I-Love-You sign, while Peter Parker will only do a hand wave. Other than that, the Photo Mode is really jam-packed with nifty features to take the ultimate action shots or Spidey Selfies. No, I will not stop saying Spidey Selfies.

Naturally, the experience wouldn’t be complete without Spider-Man’s agile, fluid, and ferocious fighting style, and let me tell you, it is locked and loaded. Taking down enemies hasn’t been this enjoyable since Rocksteady’s Arkham series, and feels substantially better in every possible way. Armed with an arsenal of unlockable and upgradable gadgets including his trademark Web Shooters, Electric Webs, Web Bombs, and more, combat is utterly visceral and responsive and insanely enjoyable all around. You’re able to interact with the environment and use it to your advantage, including webbing hostiles to walls and miscellaneous surfaces, hurling objects at enemies, or even more amusing, hurling them at each other; admittedly, the first few times, I cackled like an ancient sea witch laying in a pond distributing swords, but I didn’t come here to talk about my overactive sense of humor. While there is a bit of a learning curve to mastering Spider-Man’s abilities, it shouldn’t take you more than the first act of the narrative to get a grip for the mechanics with and without gadgets, though the latter is substantially less fun. Especially when you throw Spider-Man’s suit powers into the mix; there are over 20 different suits available to unlock and each one (save for one) comes with their own custom powers that can be assigned to any suit that you’ve unlocked. There are also combat modifications that can be created to give Spider-Man an extra edge when coming face to face with any of the many criminals foolish enough to stand in his way.

Speaking of learning curves, before the game had launched, I read from a bunch of lucky ducks who managed to score their copies early that web-swinging around New York City has a pretty steep learning curve. I am here to tell you that those statements are either complete nonsense or absolute facts and I’m just naturally adaptive to things. I’m leaning more towards the former here, because web-swinging really doesn’t feel difficult in the slightest, especially being so fluid and responsive, much like literally everything else gloriously is. It feels natural and enjoyable and you’re able to use different tricks and techniques to increase and maintain momentum. Eventually, once you progress far enough into the narrative, you unlock fast travel points, if you’re ever feeling lazy. Let’s be honest, if you’re feeling lazy in a Spider-Man game and don’t want to web-swing around New York City, just go home and get in bed and re-evaluate your life choices because we don’t have time for that kind of foolishness around here.

It goes without saying that Marvel’s Spider-Man is an utterly impressive experience all around, but the visuals and attention to detail command attention and respect. It has to be, without a doubt, one of the most graphically impressive video games of the modern era, and the line between video game and movie is often blurred. I don’t own a PlayStation 4 Pro so I can’t speak from personal experience on how it looks, but based on screenshots alone, it looks incredible. What I find amazing is the fact that the game looks literally just as good on an original model PlayStation 4 and the slimline model as well, which I believe boast the same hardware. Either way, my eyes are nothing short of impressed; the level of detail and the insane textures are astonishing, so much to the point where some Photo Mode screenshots I’d taken left me stunned; however, there’s a lot more to Insomniac’s strong attention to detail. One noteworthy mention is the fact that Spider-Man’s manner of speaking varies depending on what he’s doing. It’s clear that Insomniac had Yuri Lowenthal, Spider-Man’s actor, record his lines twice; when idle, Spider-Man will answer calls and monologue in a normal speaking tone, but it’s breathy and winded when he’s running, climbing, and web-swinging — and it changes dynamically if you stop movement during dialogue. It’s those little things that really add up and show how much love and care was crafted and moulded into the experience.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is nothing short of a complete masterpiece. It is easily one of the most brilliantly crafted video games, it is the ultimate Spider-Man experience, and it is a top contender of Game of the Year. Yuri Lowenthal (Prince of Persia, Saints Row, Dead or Alive) as Spider-Man/Peter Parker and Laura Bailey (Uncharted – Nadine Ross, BloodRayne, Saints Row, Resident Evil, literally hundreds of other games and my all time favorite voice actress) as Mary Jane “MJ” Watson, deliver outstanding performances, as does the entire cast of characters. With incredible gameplay, a strong narrative, high replay value, and an overall unparalleled gaming experience, this is a game that literally no one should miss, whether or not you’re a fan of the arachni-hero; if you’re not, it’ll convert you.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is available now, exclusively on the PlayStation 4.

10
Phenomenal
Spider-Man, Spider-Man...
Insomniac Games have managed to create nothing short of the ultimate Spider-Man experience, and have captured everything loved about the classic arachni-hero, making this one of the most brilliant superhero games of all time.
Pros
Outstanding visuals and strong attention to detail
Brilliant award-worthy acting from a cast of diverse actors
Strong narrative, wonderfully written
Hits every nail on the head in terms of the Spider-Man universe
Cons
Some mission structures, both campaign and secondary, can feel same-y

Video game enthusiast, James Bond aficionado, Tomb Raider expert, and lover of Beefeater gin. I'm a creature of habit and I'm either found buried in a book or working through my video game backlog when I'm not working my accounting specialist day job.

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